Kyoorius Designyatra 2012 – The Divide

This is probably the most “exciting” post I have ever done. Simply because it has so much digital, design and learning packed in it. From 30 August 2012 till 1 September 2012, Kyoorius – ‘Where Creatives Meet’ organised a brilliant 3 day design event called Designyatra . This was the 8 edition and theme for this year was – “The Divide” This year they had an additional day dedicated to understanding the divide in the digital area of design – The Digital Day. The entire 3 days featured some mind-blowing and amazing creatives from Adobe, Google, Microsoft and Nokia. Besides these tech creatives there were many other designers and entrepreneurs too. Since I am a big fan of design and digital media, there was no way I was missing out on this event! So bags packed and I headed to Goa for Digital Day 2012 – The Divide ! The conference was organised by Kyooruis at the Grand Hyatt | Goa. Digital Day was the first of the 3 days of Designyatra. This special one day dedicated to digital, boasted some of the best in the industry –

Before I get into the details of who said what and why, first a loud applause to Kyoorius for the kickass setup and detail put into the entire branding and design of the event. I loved every bit of the passes and stationary provided.  Great design and creativity put into everything right from the badges to the notebooks. Kudos. Anyone who was there that day would agree to the fact that they can’t remember every single thing that happened because it was way too awesome and action packed. Listening to each of these speakers talk was pure joy. The day started with an opening note from Mr. Rajesh Kejriwal – Founder Kyoorius Magazine after which the ever so energetic and lively Debbie Millman took over the show. First up – Robert Wong !

1. Robert Wong – Chief Creative Officer | Google

“He made us cry with that dear Sophie video. Can you believe that ! “

Robert without a doubt was probably the funniest guy on stage. He very safely begun by dedicating a fair part of his presentation to why you should keep your wife happy. Soon he shared how he was into accounting and landed up in Google simply by designing some Gmail shortcut stickers for the keyboard which later back fired. Robert being a part of the Google family gave us an inside perspective of how Google is trying to out do themselves everyday. He focused on how it is important to do something that makes life simple and enriches it. He played a series of videos that highlighted his team’s work at Google for various products. He said –  spend 99.9% of your time MAKING, to do good things that matter ! He even spoke about how Google sold and marketed a browser – Chrome (Which everyone thought was not possible. I mean seriously, who sells a browser to the user ?) Also showcased a new product of Google – Exquisite Forest and spoke on how the video was designed for Google’s Glass Project. The best part of Robert’s presentation was – every video he showed us had so much emotion to it. They were real stories of real people and how Google was transforming lives. It wasn’t some creative guy making shit up.I personally loved the Dear Sophie Gmail video which is a true story of an engineer working at Google. Apart from that the Chrome Speed test and the Exquisite Forest videos which were interesting, another really touching story was the – It gets better video -” Beginning with one inspiring video, Dan Savage used the web to create the It Gets Better project–a movement that has generated thousands of uplifting videos that give hope to teens.”  He also spoke about how they did a hangout with the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu. It was Google and the real world connecting.  Robert also said – “I don’t like to make ads. I make demos and documentaries.” Robert really rocked the show and it was a great start to the event. I really love the note on which he ended his presentation – “Make the World better, Do EPIC shit people ! “ – That’s Robert for all of you ! (Completely unrelated, the T Shirt I got at the event happens to be designed by Robert! Yippee!)

There were many videos he shared. but I can’t remember the names of all of them. Here are a few .




2. Sander Ejlenberg – Creative Director | Ice Mobile & Muse

” customize + personalize = awesomize your brand interface via mobile and digital.Mobile  “

Sander was amazing. He had so much to offer in terms of design and storytelling with digital on the mobile platform. He presented some of his work with Ice Mobile and Muse. We heard a lot about how the mobile interface was the key  to the unified experience.  I clearly remember this piece of work he showcased  for ABM AMRO Mobile Banking – ” Together with ABN AMRO IceMobile developed Mobile Banking by ABN AMRO. With the Mobile Banking application you can check your balance, transactions, view and make transfers via your mobile phone. The service is primarily available as an app for iPhone and iPad, and will very soon be available for Android and Blackberry.” Some really important points he focused on were,  how important an interface is while establishing an enriched user experience. He also mentioned about how its important for brands to market and story tell using digital and mobile content in today’s world.



3. Aapo Bovellan – Director Brand Marketing | Nokia   and

    Bruno Maag – Creative & Managing Director | Dalton Maag

” What do you guys smoke ?  ” Bruno to the Bengali folks !

This was another really interesting and yet surprising presentation. By the end of this session by Aapo and Bruno, everyone had new-found respect for Nokia. It begun with Aapo speaking about what went into establishing a unified and personal branding for Nokia. Right from their product design to their packaging. Some key points by Aapo were – Make a product, you love yourself. Focus on doing your own thing. A lot of solid points by Aapo on how Nokia believes they are the first mobile and how they stay unique to it. 3 points I really loved were –

1. Understand who you really are.

2. Make an original product.

3. Have a focused identity.

I really enjoyed the Nokia Pure view  short film. At some point I remember, Aapo saying Nokia made the best maps. I really wanted to see the look on Robert’s face at that moment. (CCO at Google) Soon Aapo was joined by this amazing dude – Bruno From Dalton Maag. And then this was a deadly mix. We were just taken on this amazing trip with the new Nokia typeface – Nokia Pure ! Oh man it was amazing to see and understand the effort and design process that went into the new Nokia type face. It was mind-blowing to see how many different languages it supported and will in the near future. Nokia was really living up to the line – Connecting people. I remember Bruno spoke about how they were building it for Gujrati, Tamil, Hebrew, Arabic etc. What I clearly remember was Bruno saying – ” When it came to Bengali, we had a lot of struggle. I mean seriously what do you guys smoke ?” Bruno spoke about how challenging it was to build the new type to support Bengali at first. Similarly what political challenges they faced in China and similar religious barriers they had to overcome in other parts of the world. On a whole the entire presentation was really amazing and filled with some kickass facts about Nokia ! Oh also these Dalton Maags they gave us are just amazing. The display some client projects and also the new Nokia Pure Typeface. At the end Nokia did us proud.

4.Nic Roope – Founder & ECD  | Poke (UK)

” Digital has really become big now. But in the process, we have managed to piss everyone off  “

Nic was simply so fucking interesting ! And I am not exaggerating that even one bit ! He may come to look as a stern and serious guy, but hey,  he is a really great person to talk to. I think he showcased some of the best digital media projects during the entire day. His projects had not only a digital aspect but a balanced feed of digital, design as well as technology put into play. Most of his work with Poke was really innovative, kinda out of the box. He spoke on how digital has become a medium to share and how simple it is to tap its potential if done right. He highlighted how sometimes you just go with an idea and make it big. I really enjoyed the work he showcased. They had a creative as well as a funny edge. Some of the projects were an advertisement for Diesel Eye wear, Phone Fund for Orange and a never-ending web page !

Here are a couple of them :


5.Rodney Edwards – Principle Design Manger | Microsoft

” The design idea needs to be bigger than the design team !   “

Finally Rodney gets on stage. I was really looking forward to hearing him speak about Microsoft’s new direction in design and branding. Rodney took us through a series of images that explained Microsoft’s new design philosophy. He explained how Microsoft was moving into a direction to unify all its products with a common visual identity. Three points I really loved about his presentation was

  • “Take pride in craftsmanship. Devote time and energy to small things that will be seen more by many”
  •  “Engineer the experience at every stage” Microsoft’s learning from  Apple
  •  The design idea needs to be bigger than the design team !   “

He did dive into how they were building the new Windows 8 UI and how the were trying to establish and enrich the whole user experience. A part from that,  a couple of previews of apps and layouts that they were working on for Windows 8 on tablets and hand-held devices. Since we had the opportunity to ask the speaker questions, I really wanted to get Rodney on the topic of Microsoft’s rebranding that just occurred.  I  tweeted the question to Debbie Millman and yippie ! At the end of the presentation Debbie put forward the question to Rodney.

Q:  Debbie : “Rodney what is the design philosophy that went into  rebranding  the new Microsoft logo and how has it been received – Jonathan  ”

Rodney explained that the step in rebranding the Microsoft logo was a part of unification of the overall brand and products. They aimed at establishing a unified identity with the logo and products. He also said, it was to make it more human.

6.Micheal Gough – Vice President Experience Design | Adobe

” You build a portfolio that will get you hired !”

Micheal Gough was the man of the evening. Without doubt the last but the best presentation by Micheal Gough – VP XD for Adobe. Micheal went down to the core of what drives a company like Adobe in building these cutting edges tools that help deliver in the digital loop. He was very honest in every word. He spoke about the creative cloud and how it would shape up in the near future. Also how it aims at making the Adobe softwares more available to the crowd. He spoke about how Adobe is trying to reshape and build better tools that will help cater to the growing and changing needs. He made a really lovely and inspirational presentation which I thoroughly enjoyed. But the best part was what happened after the presentation. Along with a few others, I had the opportunity to sit down with Micheal Gough and a couple of other from Adobe like Phil and Jay Dutta  and have an open conversation with them.

This was the real fun part. I must say Micheal loves telling stories. And I wanted to hear more, even after the session ended. Micheal gave us a brief of how he landed up with Adobe. Starting his career in Architecture and then moving on to design with a sports news channel and other places. He also did a stint with Nike and later joined Macromedia and ultimately Adobe. He shed light on how we must follow what we want to do. Measure our capability and make wise decisions. He explained how he took up the creative director job at Nike and left it. Simply because he felt he couldn’t do it. We shouldn’t go by the job title and designation but follow what we want to do – Micheal’s advice.  We even asked him a couple of question. I remember someone asked him what kind of tools were developed by Adobe for managing and visualizing data. Micheal explained that currently Adobe isn’t heading in that direction. He also spoke about, if someone plans to step in that arena he has got to be good in numbers, and design to correctly interpret and present data. Someone else asked him on how Adobe predicts what is going to be the next best tool while developing their products for the digital world where change is a constant factor. He explained, Adobe can’t predict but they keep advancing and build better tools. They innovate while at the same time upgrade their existing platforms. He would make that sad simley face every time someone went near a topic that involved Flash. (Something very close to me – Micheal Gough) He spoke about how Adobe is building some new and wide range of tools based on HTML 5 technology. It seems pretty exciting ! He focused on how the creative suite tries to improve their tools and build better ones. A surprising statement he made was Adobe is working on some open source tools !  My goodness. Just imagine ! To which someone promptly replied – ” Will illustrator be open source ?” Micheal  – “Haha, Illustrator and Photoshop never.” He also spoke about how Adobe is trying to integrate illustrator and Photoshop to help cross-platform work process. While he spoke about how they working on some new HTML5  based tools I asked him why is Adobe still selling Dreaweaver when they have successfully launched Muse, which essentially does the same thing but quicker. He explained saying just because we made a new tool, we won’t chuck the old one out. Plus a lot of money is made on the sales of Dream weaver. He said, the Dreaweaver team doesn’t sit silent. They will not wait for another software to out beat them, but in fact will find ways to out beat themselves before someone else. Which makes completely sense. He strongly supported the notion of experimenting and learning from mistakes. He said, there was a time when Adobe tried to integrate all the creative suite products into a single software and failed miserably. He said, however we learnt from it and continued developing. Mistakes help you decide better. Build better.  The point I really like about the Creative cloud was what that Micheal explained – When we need to fix a bug or tools in a version of a software, it takes 18 months to release a corrected or fixed one. However  with the creative cloud we can provide the new fix as soon as it is ready. Plus the cloud in the future will help several creative to collaborate and work on projects. Meeting and listening to Micheal was a delight and a memory for me. Before we departed I also had a quick word with Jay Dutta – XD at Adobe. It great talking to him about what kind of designers Adobe hires and how they work. As I describe this evening – An Adobe overdose ! I personally am a big fan of Adobe and work with so many of their softwares. Recently I started a series of review sessions on the new Adobe Creative Suite CS6 on my blog as a part of the Adobe User Review Program. Having an opportunity to sit with these folks from Adobe has given me a lot to think about.

At the end of the day, I would say this was an awesome event. I learnt so much. I left Goa with a head filled with so much inspiration after meeting hearing these amazing folks. I don’t think I slept that night. What I loved was that every speaker spoke on conquering the divide via unification rather than going into detail about the divide itself. Having a chance to meet folks like Debbie Millman, Micheal Gough and Sander Ejlenberg is bucket list stuff for me !  Debbie deserves a huge round of applause for hosting the event so well and connecting the audience with the speakers. It was great meeting a lot of fellow designers and creatives. One thing is for sure, next time I am staying for all the 3 or more days Designyatra 2013 will have to offer. Great job by all the speakers and the Kyoorius team.

To know more about the event –

  • Website – designyatra.com
  • Twitter – twitter.com/designyatra
  • Facebook – facebook.com/kyoorius
  • Hastag – #kdy12
  • Instagram – #kdy12
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